Mayor Yarbrough Delivers State of the Village Address, Reports Progress

Maywood, 1:00 pm –

The Maywood Chamber of Commerce marked its 73rd Anniversary year with a special guest, Mayor Henderson Yarbrough, Sr., who delivered his State of the Village address in the form of a PowerPoint presentation. From the second floor of the Maywood Public Library, in front of a gathering of about twenty to twenty-five civic leaders from various sectors of society, the Mayor outlined what effectively amounts to his case for another term.

He framed his address in the context of post-2008 economic struggles, noting that high unemployment and foreclosure rates, among other recessionary indicators, weren’t exclusive to the Village. For effect, as if to channel the good fortunes of another politician who won reelection despite a record that, many would argue, was battered by larger forces outside of his control, a photo of President Obama appeared on the opening slide.

The Mayor said that his highest priority has been ensuring that the Village’s streets are safe. He reported that in 2012, both homicide and shooting rates were down 46 percent and 20 percent, respectively. And so far this year, there’s only been one homicide. He noted that these figures were a marked improvement on the past. In 2003, he said, the Village experienced 20 homicides and “double digit homicides four of five years from 2000 to 2004.”

The Mayor attributed this marked reduction in violent crime to a variety of factors. Some of these include the mobilization of citizen volunteers, the Maywood Alternative Policing Strategies (MAPS) program, collaboration with neighboring police departments and the Cook County Sheriff Department Police Drug Task Force.

Other measures mentioned include ordinances banning assault weapons and high capacity weapon ammunition magazines, a “declared war on gangbangers and drugs,” “tightening up on” ordinances against prostitution and graffiti, a Public Nuisance ordinance targeting bad landlords and the installation of 77 closed-circuit cameras throughout the Village.

On fiscal issues, Mayor Yarbrough was less specific, but just as confident. “I promise that Maywood will operate with a balanced budget and work within our realities to make the best financial decisions we can,” he said. He cited the addition of online municipal services as an example of increased efficiency.

The Mayor conceded that the tough economic environment slowed business activity in the Village, but said that the pause didn’t reflect a lack of interest or confidence among potential investors. Moreover, despite the recession, business activity hasn’t come to a complete standstill. In the last four years, according to the Mayor, 160 new businesses have opened and ten have opened so far this year. Some of these include a new McDonalds to open in the spring of this year on 5th and Roosevelt Road, Southern Exposure Restaurant, Stylistic Salon, Farmer’s Insurance Agency and Meal of the Day Café.

The Mayor also said various infrastructure projects have been initiated to lay the foundation for the time when even more businesses open in Maywood. Among his accomplishments in economic and infrastructure development, the Mayor listed the $125,000 the Village received through an alleyway improvement pilot program, $8 million allocated toward a “massive facelift for 5th Avenue,” the 9th Avenue repaving project, the $1.3 million Lake Street improvement project and $875,000 allocated toward resurfacing Madison Street—all in 2008. He also touted the replacement of 9th Avenue water mains in 2009, the installation of storm relief sewers in 2012 and the 5th Avenue resurface project, also in 2012.

In addition to discussing the updated Zoning Ordinance and the Village’s plan “to assemble land parcels and provide grants for upgrades to the appearance of businesses” in Maywood’s three TIF zones, the Mayor lamented the closing of Maywood Market, “the full-service food market” that was in operation for barely a year. Despite the setback, the Mayor said that the Village is “looking into other proposals for the site.”

The Mayor couched the Village’s housing crisis in a wider context, noting that, although Maywood was hit “exceptionally hard,” other villages in Cook and DuPage Counties were hit hard, as well. “Last year Maywood had 184 foreclosure fillings, a 10.8% increase from the previous year,” he said.

To remedy the fallout, the Village has collaborated with a variety of statewide agencies and political leaders, such as former State Representative Yarbrough, the Illinois Department of Professional Regulations and the West Cook County Housing Collaborative to provide services such as housing assistance and rehabilitation grants to those in need.

Mayor Yarbrough also presented an update on the Maywood Housing Authority, citing the organization’s “massive changeover in leadership,” the hiring of Tiffany Robinson as its new Executive Director and HUD’s determination “that the Authority was no longer ‘troubled’,” as proof of progress.

I welcome anyone willing to dispute and/or verify the claims made by the Mayor. My goal is to begin a democratic fact-checking process. So, if anyone has any counterclaims, counterarguments and/or arguments in favor of the Mayor’s address, either post a comment or shoot an email to thevillagefreepress@gmail.com. Know and live free.

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